Costs awarded to a Defendant

In this interesting case Rachel was instructed on behalf of a vulnerable Defendant with longstanding mental health difficulties who had been sued by an established nationwide Estate Agency company. The Claimant company’s claim was brought on the basis that the Defendant had entered into an agreement with the Estate Agency to sell her house and that in the course of the agreement she had authorised it to produce a “HIP” (Home Information Pack) for the sale.

The Defendant had throughout insisted that she had never given any authority for her property to be sold, that the agreement had been doctored by someone in the employment of the Estate Agency and that, in any event, the HIP had never been produced.

At a very late stage, only 1 week before the hearing was due to take place, the Claimant had withdrawn its claim. By this stage the Defendant had spent thousands of pounds defending the claim. Rachel’s instructing solicitors took the view that even though costs are usually not awarded to a successful Defendant on the small claims track, the behaviour of the Claimant had been so unreasonable in pursuing the claim that an application under CPR 27.14(2)(g) was appropriate. It was the Claimant’s position that the Defendant had only sent it crucial evidence at a very late stage and so it had not acted unreasonably in making its late decision to withdraw the claim.

The application was vigorously opposed by the Claimant which in turn indicated that it would itself seek unreasonable conduct costs from the Defendant. Despite the fact that her client had only disclosed information at a very late stage, Rachel’s oral and written representations both on the law and the facts of the case were successful, with the result that the Judge found that the Claimant Estate Agency had acted unreasonably and that it should pay the Defendant £4,000 within 14 days of the application hearing.